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US firm says China milk safe

BEIJING, Feb 24 – US company Wyeth said it had received complaints that children who had been fed its baby milk powder in China had developed kidney stones, but denied its products were unsafe.

The statement posted on Wyeth\’s China website on Monday was the latest in a rash of reports of sick babies that is raising new concerns long after a tainted baby formula scandal was declared over by Chinese authorities.

Authorities this month investigated the domestically produced milk powder of Danone Dumex, a unit of French food giant Danone, after similar consumer allegations.

China\’s product-quality regulator later cleared Danone, although the health ministry said last week it was investigating why children may be suffering kidney problems if not through tainted milk.

Like Danone, Wyeth insisted there was nothing wrong with its milk powder.

"At this point, there is no clear evidence showing that these ailments have any link to Wyeth products," it said, vowing to cooperate in finding the cause.

The China Daily newspaper reported that at least 20 families claimed their babies had developed kidney stones after consuming Wyeth products, some of whom had been fed Wyeth baby formula since birth.

Wyeth\’s statement said its products had already been cleared by Chinese inspectors amid last year\’s baby milk contamination scare.

The scandal lead to the deaths of at least six infants and 300,000 were sickened after the industrial chemical melamine was found to have been added to milk products to give the appearance of higher protein levels.

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It prompted domestic and international recalls of Chinese-made dairy goods and a range of other products with Chinese milk.

Three people have been sentenced to death in China over the contamination, while the head of a major milk firm was jailed for life.

However, Chinese officials have since said the health threat was over.

Some Chinese experts quoted by the nation\’s state-controlled media have raised the possibility of other environmental factors causing the new rise in kidney stones.

Public health problems stemming from environmental factors are common in China, one of the world\’s most polluted countries.

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